Zillow buys Trulia for $3.5 billion

The leading real estate website Zillow announced Monday that it bought Trulia, the second biggest player in the field, in a stock deal valued at $3.5 billion.

Zillow will continue to operate two separate websites, where consumers can search listings of homes for sale.

Real estate portals like Zillow and Trulia have transformed the housing market over the past decade by making information that was once only available through realtors easily accessible to consumers. The sites have made the home buying process much more transparent and stripped real estate brokers of their traditional role of gatekeepers of information.

The new Zillow will still have plenty of competition from other sites such as Realtor.com, Homes.com as well as from Coldwell Banker, Re/Max, Century 21 and other real estate brokers.

But it will give the combined company the leverage to charge realtors more, said Steve Murray, editor at Real Trends a real estate communications and consulting company.

The company charges agents to list their names along with the homes they're selling. Already, some agent teams spend $20,000 a month with Zillow, Trulia, or both.

The merger should have little immediate impact on the housing market. Their combined revenue is less than 4% of the $12 billion that brokers and the industry spends to market their properties each year.

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